In 1962, the year Jamaica gained independence from Britain, three Jamaican kids started a vocal trio: Frederick "Toots" Hibbert, Ralphus "Raleigh" Gordon and Nathaniel "Jerry" Matthias. They changed name a few times, having a hit with
Fever (1963) as the Vikings and a hit with Broadway Jungle (1964) as the Flames.
Hibbert's vocal style was actually closer to gospel than to the dominant style
of Jamaica, ska, and than to the rising new style that didn't have a name yet (reggae).
They became the Maytals with the album Never Grow Old (1964) that was
followed by several hits like Dog War (1965) and Bam Bam (1966).
In 1966 Hibbert was sent to jail for for possession of marijuana.
When he was released he dedicated a song to his prison number, 54-46, which became another hit.
Do The Reggay (1968) was the record that gave the music its name, although it wasn't the first reggae song.
By then the style had already penetrated Britain and the USA via, respectively,
Prince Buster's Al Capone (1967) and Neil Diamond's Red Red Wine (1967). In fact, reggae became a worldwide fad thanks to Johnny Nash's Hold Me Tight (1968).
The Maytals contributed more hits to reggae:
Monkey Man (1969),
African Doctor (1969),
Sweet and Dandy (1969), winner of Jamaica's song festival,
Pressure Drop (1970),
Pomps And Pride (1972),
Funky Kingston (1972),
Now renamed Toots and the Maytals, they enjoyed a brief worldwide popularity
with the album Reggae Got Soul (1976).
Hibbert started his solo career with Spiritual Healing (1982).
Hibbert continued to release solo albums:
True Love (2004), Light Your Light (2007) and
Got To Be Tough (2020).
Toots Hibbert died in 2020.
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